2011-12-17 / Editorials & Letters

Guest Column: Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow – Improving our Lake

By Merv Bartholow, President, Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow

While other communities wait for someone else to take care of their problems, Buckeye Lake for Tomorrow [BLT] is taking positive action to correct the hypereutrophic [nutrient rich] conditions found in Buckeye Lake.

The water quality of Buckeye Lake and its watershed can be attributed to a number of factors. Buckeye Lake is over 175 years old making it one of the oldest reservoirs in the nation. Past agricultural practices within the watershed led to increased sedimentation and nutrient loading in the streams as well as the lake. Urban development bordering the lake and in the region has increased channelization and impervious surfaces, contributing to non-point source pollution from lawn fertilizers, chemicals, pet waste and petroleum products.

In addition to studying the current water quality conditions that exist across the watershed, BLT is focusing their attention to activities that will lead to the improvement of the natural environment. These actions include reduction of the carp population, use of non-phosphorous fertilizers on lawns, no till/low till farming methods and bioremediation techniques.

Improved farming practices throughout the watershed have resulted in clearer water in the tributaries containing reduced levels of Phosphorous and Nitrogen when compared to the water that exists within the lake itself. Judicious application of fertilizer, proper drainage through selective tiling and no till/low till cultivation practices have all led to an improved water quality environment across the watershed.

Most of the lawn services have agreed to apply fertilizers that do not contain phosphorous when working close to the lake and it is our understanding that Scott’s has removed fertilizers containing Phosphorous from retail stores.

Connecting the homes along Honey Creek Road to the Thornville waste water treatment plant has removed the problems associated with private septic tanks located along the shoreline of the lake and the pollutants associated with their existence.

Bioremediation is a relatively new science to be used in water quality management, however, micro-biology has been successfully applied to many types of land use, especially the clean-up of oil spills, acid drainage from mining operations, manure decomposition and many others. The use of microbes to restore balance to the eco-system is proven to be an alternative to the application of chemicals, to improve the environment.

For the past 3 years, BLT has been studying the possibility of using bioremediation to correct the excess phosphorous that exists in our lake. This excess phosphorous provides a nutrient rich environment that promotes the growth of blue-green algae. Following many meetings and discussions with experts in the field of micro-biology, agreement has been reached with ODNR as well as OEPA and permits have been approved to conduct a Demonstration Project in Thornport Harbor next April.

The goal of this project is to remove microbes from the lake and strengthen them prior to their re-introduction back into the lake. These stronger microbes will remove the excess phosphorous from the water and sediment, returning the lake to a natural balance that will no longer promote the growth of blue-green algae. If successful, this science will make possible the ability to restore clarity to the water in the lake, improve the environment for sport fishing opportunities, lessen the risk that arises from the development of bluegreen algae and improve the overall health of Buckeye Lake.

Our efforts don’t stop with this one project. There is much work to be done throughout the watershed to assure that we have done everything possible to ensure the future quality of surface water throughout the Buckeye Lake Watershed.

This is an exciting time for our community and we thank all who have been so supportive of our efforts. Special thanks to the AMVETS Post 51, Buckeye Lake Area Civic Association, Cranberry Bay Homeowners Association and the Doris Kasper Foundation for their generous financial support. Each of these groups has recognized the challenges that we need to address, and have stepped forward making possible much of the work that has been done to better understand and improve the water quality in Buckeye Lake.

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